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    RIA museum to re-open this summer after nearly 4 years

    RIA museum to re-open this summer after nearly 4 years

    Photo By Corinna Baltos | Rock Island Arsenal Museum technician, Melanie Cook, cleans a M1903 rifle in...... read more read more



    Story by Corinna Baltos 

    U.S. Army Sustainment Command

    ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – After nearly four years of being closed, the Rock Island Arsenal Museum will finally be opening again.

    The museum, which was scheduled to close for renovation in March 2021, closed a year earlier due to the COVID-19 pandemic that swept the world in early 2020.

    “Unfortunately, one closure ran into the other,” said Patrick Allie, museum director. “We’ve been closed a lot longer than we anticipated.”

    The museum is scheduled to re-open this summer.

    The RIA Museum is the second oldest museum in the Army and has been a part of the arsenal since it opened on July 4, 1905. The oldest is the West Point Museum, which opened in 1854.

    “The museum hasn’t been renovated in more than 80 years and we were looking to re-imagine the interpretation and the story we told to be much more Rock Island Arsenal centric and Army organic industrial based centric to better reflect our audience,” said Allie.

    The renovation of the museum cost $2 million.

    One of the exhibits that the museum used to have, was the “gun wall” where museum patrons could view more than 1,200 guns displayed on a giant wall. However, while the guns will not be displayed in that manner anymore, many of the weapons will be integrated into the larger interpretive approach to the museum, Allie said.

    “What we sought to do in the new design is to better integrate the weapons that had something to do with Rock Island Arsenal, things that were made here or experimented on here, or small arms that had some sort of linkage to RIA and weave them into the broader interpretation,” Allie said.

    However, the stuffed horse will be back in the museum. The horse, when purchased by the shops here, was already dead and stuffed by a taxidermist. The shops used it to test how various harnesses would fit on horses.

    During the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, the arsenal horse, along with three other stuffed horses were on display in the government building as part of the Army’s display.

    After the fair concluded, the horse was returned to arsenal and has been a part of the RIA museum since it opened.

    So, what will the new museum offer?

    It will be a chronological approach that will tell the history of Arsenal Island since it was first mapped in 1805 by then-Lieutenant Zebulon Pike during an expedition, he led to reconnoiter the upper Mississippi River under authority of President Thomas Jefferson through the Louisiana Purchase territory, to the present day.

    “The museum will be divided into six sections taking us from 1805 to the present, hitting on every major U.S. conflict that the arsenal had some sort of hand in,” said Allie.

    The arsenal has manufactured war material for every war starting with the Spanish - American War and all the wars, conflicts and peace keeping missions up to the present day.

    The museum will also showcase some of the large artillery pieces, such as the M102 Howitzer and the M198 155mm Howitzer that were either constructed or experimented at the arsenal.

    Along with highlighting the contributions the island has made to the Army, the museum will also showcase stories that haven’t been told before.

    Many of these stories will be about diversity within the workforce, said Allie. “We will touch on some of the very first African-American employees that came to work at the arsenal after the Civil War,” he said. “We will also highlight women’s contributions to the work force here, starting with the pre-World War I era to the present day.”

    The exhibits will incorporate interactive digital media and physical interactives.



    Date Taken: 04.19.2023
    Date Posted: 04.19.2023 10:53
    Story ID: 442900

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